Thursday, November 14, 2013

Overheard at The Beach Dog Café…

“What’s a nice cat like me doing in a place like this? It’s a hot dog place.”

Which is just what Chuck said when we arrived at around noon on a Sunday to find ten or more people waiting for tables and being told that it would be a half hour to forty-five minute wait. Well, he didn’t say the part about “a nice cat,” but he did exclaim: “It’s a hot dog place!”

“If you have a penchant for dogs—either the four-legged kind or those wrapped in a bun—it might behoove you to plan a breakfast or lunch stop at The Beach Dog Cafe the next time you’re in Lincoln City.
“A cute older building along Highway 101 is crammed with enough pooch paraphernalia and photographs to satisfy the pickiest canine critic.

“A preliminary phone conversation alerted me that with only seven tables and two barstools, ‘there is no slow time … we’re always busy,’ which translated into ‘it could be a 30-minute wait.’

“We entertained ourselves in the interim eyeing hundreds of framed dog pictures and dog-related adages” (Diane Reynolds for the Statesman Journal).

And keeping with the dog theme, on the flat screen was a movie that could be titled “Lassie Goes to War” or “Lassie Meets the Sound of Music,” but I think was really “Son of Lassie.”
But The Beach Dog Café is much more than hot dogs. In fact, more diners that Sunday were eating breakfast than were eating hot dogs. In fact, the breakfast menu covers two pages and includes breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, potato pancakes, stuffed French toast, omelets, potatoes covered in a variety of toppings, and biscuits and gravy. The latter received numerous plaudits on various dining web sites. And then there was the Big Dawg Breakfast with three eggs, two slices of bacon, two sausage links, one slice of pit ham, and one biscuit covered with country sausage gravy. Whew!!
But I was mindful of these immortal words spoken by that culinary guru Anthony Bourdain: “There are no two finer words in the English language than ‘encased meats,’ my friend” ( And the café’s choices of encased meats (Bourdain has also been known to refer to them as “meats in tube form”) included: basic and kosher dogs; kielbasa, bratwurst, Louisiana, Italian, German, Polish, spicy, and smoked sausages; and veggie dogs.

And while you can “build your own” by combining your “encased meat” with a list of toppings, the café did most of this work for you and had a lengthy list of combinations. There was The Reuben Dog with a grilled bratwurst topped with Thousand Island dressing, European style sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese. There was The Taco Dog with a grilled basic dog topped with crushed corn chips, seasoned ground beef, cilantro, cheddar cheese, and sour cream. There was The S.L.T. Dog with a grilled Polish sausage topped with lettuce and diced tomato and served with a side of ranch sauce. Could this last be the mountain of food shown on this diner’s plate?
We were seated and we ordered—the Slaw Dog for Chuck and the The Bacon Jack Dog for me. At last our food arrived. Look at this plate! No. Not the food. Look at the plate.
It’s a real plate and not a plastic basket lined with grease-resistant paper. Look at the artistically arranged garnishes. And we had real table service—provided by the owners’ son—and didn’t order at a counter. This is no average hot dog place.

With my dog, I ordered a cup of chile that was made with few beans and lots of cumin and accompanied by a handful of warm tortilla chips on which cheese had been melted.
(I did end up taking about half of this home to be used later on chile dogs.)

Chuck’s Slaw Dog was a large kosher hot dog topped with the café’s house-made cole slaw and accompanied by a side of horseradish sauce.
The slaw was amazing, and I am very picky about my slaw. This was a very fresh and crisp combination of green and red cabbages and carrots and the dressing was neither too sugary nor too tart.

My Bacon Jack Dog was a grilled spicy sausage topped with ranch dressing, chopped bacon, grilled onions, pepper jack cheese, tomato, and cilantro.
On a recent episode of Top Chef on Bravo, the quick fire challenge was to convince the judge—in this case the editor of some food magazine--that certain food trends (kale, blackening, eggs, and bacon) should not be relegated to the dust bin of culinary history.

I get some of these. Blackening, when not done in Louisiana, can result in a plate of burned tasting food. I know that kale is good for you, but what else is it good for? And why does every sandwich need to be topped with a fried egg? But bacon? I still believe that everything goes better with bacon. And what better than a grilled “encased meat” made of pork?

Both of our sandwiches came on really great rolls that the café gets from the Franz Family Bakery headquartered in Portland. It is said that “…(i)n collaboration with E. E. Franz of Franz Bakery, W.P. Yaw of the former Yaw's Top Notch Restaurant invented the 5-inch (130 mm) diameter hamburger bun in the late 1920's. Though others are credited with creating a bread product to use for the first hamburgers known to the world, Franz is credited for inventing the hamburger bun in its current worldwide accepted form” (

And both of us chose the potato salad from the list of sides that included house made potato salad, cole slaw, skillet-style potatoes, or chips. This was a well above average version that was enhanced by a small amount of chopped onion.
No, this isn’t just “a hot dog place.” This is a hot dog place that would satisfy even the pickiest lover of “meat in tube form” and earns the highest 5.0 Addie rating.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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